Last year, international schools generated US $34 billion in annual fee income according to ISC and are increasingly becoming recruitment channels for overseas higher education providers and universities. Within 10 years, ISC predicts there will be over 11,000 international schools teaching 6.3 million students.
The sector’s growth over the past 10 years is directly related to demand for quality education and more buying power among middle classes in emerging markets.
International schools in China are predicted to see “enormous” growth “likely to dwarf all other countries in the world”
“Today there is a massive demand for English-speaking education all over the world,” said Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of ISC.
“The future growth of international schools is now very much dependent on how many people can afford to pay international school fees.”
Wealthy local parents make who want to prepare their children for foreign university degrees make up 80% of the demand for international school enrolments– a significant change from 20 years ago when, according to ISC, most centres were dominated by expatriate students.
Due to recent changes in the law allowing Chinese-foreign cooperation programmes to enrol both Chinese nationals and foreign students, international schools in China are predicted to see “enormous” growth “likely to dwarf all other countries in the world”.
China is also ahead of other markets in terms of numbers with 200 million school-aged children and two and a half million US dollar millionaires among the rapidly growing middle class.
Other countries around East and South East Asia present growth potential including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong but Brummitt says they are not generating enough income through fees to entice major operators yet. “This may well change within the next five years,” he addd.
ISC currently knows of 180 international schools planned and under construction
The Middle East including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are also pegged to surge as well as parts of South America, especially Brazil.
In addition to providing a pipeline to foreign universities, the boom in the sector creates opportunities for private schools considering overseas ventures, along with private equity, banks, architects and other consultancy specialising in the international education sector.
According to ISC , several UK independent schools and a number of the proprietary schools groups which own multiple international schools have plans to expand their brands significantly in the next few years. ISC currently knows of 180 international schools planned and under construction.